Higgs on Crimes Against Democracy

In 2009, Bloomington journalist Steven Higgs wrote an interesting book about how the politicians and lobbyists (for construction and economic development interests) trumped sound public policy and pushed through their economically non-justifiable new-terrain highway project to connect Evansville with central Indiana.  It’s a detailed and unsettling account of the way in which politics can work against democracy and sound public policy.    Here’s a brief summary excerpt:

Bayh won the election, and in July 1989, seven months after he took office, INDOT released the Southwest Indiana Highway Feasibility Study’s conclusions to the public.  At a meeting of Southwest Indiana’s public officials in Evansville, the study consultants delivered the bad news, in the media’s presence.  They said the proposed roadway would be “the most costly highway ever built in the state of Indiana since the development of the Interstate system“.  They concluded that none of the routes they studied could be justified on economic grounds.

But that wasn’t what Bayh, Lt. Governor O’Bannon, the Highway Lobby or Evansville highway boosters wanted to hear.  They cast the study’s admonitions aside with barely a glance and embarked instead on a 20-year crusade to ram their boondoggle through the political system, public input and the facts be damned.”

Twenty Years of Crimes Against Democracy—A Grassroots History of the I-69/NAFTA Highway, Steven Higgs, 2009


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